Monday, January 10, 2011

Wash your lettuce, please.

It disgusts me how many people don't wash their lettuce, or they just rinse it off. That's fine if you're getting it from your own organic garden, but most aren't. And even when I get vegetables from my own gardening, I still wash them off. I try not to use organic pesticides, preferring instead to use friendly creatures like predatory mites and ladybugs to take care of many pests. There are times, however, that pesticides are called for, and I opt for organic -- but that doesn't mean I want to eat the stuff.

But we are talking store-bought lettuce here. Organic or not, you still need to wash it. I grew up in an entomologist's household. I know what kind of things can be lurking on my produce, alive or not, and I know the things that can be on it to supposedly prevent those lurking things. And think of the outbreaks you have occasionally that cause the recalls on produce. Do you really want to take the chance that you're getting some of that produce before a recall and not doing something that could possibly prevent you from getting sick?

Wash your lettuce, please.

I wash my lettuce in my OXO salad spinner. I place lettuce leaves in the basket, put it in the bowl and then fill the bowl with cold water. Then I liberally sprinkle kosher salt all over the lettuce, swirl the lettuce a little and then sprinkle a little more. I let this soak between 10-20 minutes (I'm usually putting groceries away while it soaks) and then I gently swirl the leaves around some more. Then pull the basket out and pour the dirty water into the sink. Rinse your lettuce off, shaking the fresh water under the running water and making sure it gets all the leaves. Put the basket back in the bowl, spin it. Pour water out, spin again etc. until it's as dry as you want it. Either use the lettuce for a salad then, or place it in a ziploc and put it in the refrigerator. I try not to buy pre-washed salads. If I do, I opt for the organic kind in the tub rather than the plastic bag kind. And I wash it again with this method.

Another reason I do this is so I can see what I'm washing off the lettuce we'll be eating. I once brought some lettuce (looked fine in the store) home and washed it with this method, only to discover not hundreds but THOUSANDS of aphids floating in the water. At least a hundred fungus gnats AND some mold was also floating around. Gross. Needless to say, I threw it out. There was no way to get it all off. Imagine if I'd been one of those people who didn't wash my lettuce.

Now, I'll show you what the water normally looks like after I wash my lettuce. There's usually a film of some sort, it's cloudy, and there's always at least a couple of gnats floating in there.

And the dirt and whatever else that is left in the bottom of the bowl AFTER pouring most of the dirt out with the dirty water:

Gross. Please, wash (and then rinse) your lettuce. And any other fruits and vegetables. The water looks similar to this after letting grapes soak. How many of you pop an unwashed grape in your mouth? Eww.

Just in case you are needing to be disgusted a little more, you can check out my good friend Ginny's tip on cleaning your coffeemaker.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Great post, Caneel. I am a devout produce-washer. But if I weren't, I'd become one after seeing these pictures.


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